Diego Maradona

Diego Maradona’s Bizarre Coaching Route

Argentine football legend, Diego Maradona, last week confirmed his return to management with the United Arab Emirates second tier side, Al-Fujairah. Maradona's latest move highlights his strange career path since the FIFA World Cup winner swapped the pitch for the dugout.

There's often a preconception that practically all great players will make fabulous managers due to the vast knowledge garnered during their illustrious careers. And indeed some have done that with ease; a perfect case study is Pep Guardiola, Kenny Dalglish, and Frank de Boer.

But that's only a meagre figure compared to the bountiful top players we've seen over the years. However, great tacticians such as Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger, and the retired Sir Alex Ferguson has proven that a less colourful playing career isn't necessarily a yardstick for success as a coach.

Enter Maradona, one of the greatest footballers of all time who is enduring a less-eventful stint on the touchline. Now 56, the ex-Napoli forward will be managing a team for the fifth time in his career after spells with Mandiyú de Corrientes, Racing Club, the Argentina national team, and Al Wasl.

Maradona the magician

Every generation is blessed with a footballing genius; Maradona was certainly that man in the 80's. Naturally gifted, Maradona was capable of things no one else could match. According to ex-Uefa president, Michel Platini "the things I could do with a football, he could do with an orange". A classic number 10 renowned for his dribbling ability, the petit-sized player stunned the universe with his superb style of play, leading his nation to the World Cup title in 1986.

On the pitch of play, he was a magician and a deity when he wasn't playing. No wonder ex-teammate, Jorge Valdano revealed: "at the time that Maradona retired from active football, left traumatised Argentina". Yet, the ex-Barcelona man has not been able to replicate his exploits as a coach.

Route to coaching

Maradona's first shot at management came in 1994 with Mandiyú, now in the third tier of Argentine football. It was a totally frustrating première for the 56-year-old who only lasted five months in the role. Under the ex-Boca Juniors man, Mandiyú won just once in 12 games. His second taste of coaching was with one of his country's biggest sides, Racing, one year later. But sadly, he failed once again to impress, winning only two out of 11 matches. He then stayed away from the dugout for 13 years before taking charge of his country in 2008.

Spell with La Albiceleste

Maradona returned to coach his fatherland, seeing off competition from the likes of Diego Simeone to replace Alfio Basile. And his immediate task was to qualify La Albiceleste for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and he achieved that in grand style with two games to spare. At the Mundial, Argentina won all three group games but was sent-parking by Germany in the quarter-finals and the 56-year-old had to go. However, his abrupt dismissal wasn't a true reflection of his record as he enjoyed his finest moments as a coach, having won 14 of his 19 games. Maradona's next role was in the Middle East with Dubai-based Al Wasl. Just like in past occasions, he was fired less than one year later for winning just seven out of 22 games.

A fresh start at Al-Fujairah?

Maradona has been offered a route back to management by UAE second division side, Al-Fujairah after over five years in the woods. But the big question here is, will the Argentine excel this time? or maintain his abysmal record of around 25 % win ratio?. But one thing is certain, the former Argentina skipper is delighted to end his jobless drought. He admitted to Al Ittihad newspaper: "I am pleased to get back to coaching, having managed Al Wasl in the past".

"When we met with the legendary Diego Maradona and shared with him our project and our dreams, he showed great enthusiasm," said Sheikh Maktoum bin Hamad Al Sharqi, chairman of Fujairah Football Club.

While the move might be a sublime one for the club and the country at large, it once again depicts the Argentine's ailing coaching career. Notwithstanding his distinguished playing days, the 56-year-old has been unable to command the interest of any European team. Instead, he finds himself in the clutches of the Arab league. Meanwhile, Simeone, the man he was preferred to for his country's top job is now one of the world's most wanted managers. The Atletico Madrid manager's path has profited him whereas Maradona has obviously stagnated.

About the Author Toby

An unrepentant soccer freak other freaks call geek.

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